Nothing is more beautiful than fresh, clean, new wood. Whether it is a deck, fence, gazebo or any other type of wooden construction, people long to retain this fresh, new appearance. Unfortunately, when unprotected wood is exposed to UV sunlight, rain and snow it will soon turn gray and begin to deteriorate. This is especially true for the horizontal surfaces of a deck which take a direct hit from the weather and sun. Outdoor wood must be protected from this natural deterioration if it's appearance and structural integrity are to be preserved.
So, the perfect choice is to immediately apply a clear sealer to the wood... right? Well, not exactly. Although it seems like the perfect plan to seal and protect the wood, while preserving that beautiful light color and new look, it unfortunately doesn't work that way. Applying a clear sealer to your outdoor wood will protect the wood fibers from the rain and snow, but it will do little to protect the wood from the damaging UV rays of the sun. UV rays are the biggest cause of appearance deterioration, including the natural graying process. Water and moisture on the other hand are the root causes of rot, mold, mildew and structural deterioration. To truly protect your outdoor wooden investment, you must address both causes of deterioration. Even though many of the new modern clear sealers do contain some UV blockers and UV reflectors, they are still transparent and can only filter so much UV radiation. The pigment in a wood stain is what actually blocks and reflects the damaging UV rays of the sun.
This is why we never recommend a clear or un-tinted sealer for outdoor wood, unless you are actually trying to achieve a rustic and naturally weathered appearance. In this situation, a clear penetrating wood sealer is the perfect choice to seal out water and moisture while allowing the wood to achieve a natural gray patina. For all other applications a tinted stain is always the best choice for complete protection. It is also important to choose a stain (or clear sealer if you wish for the wood to naturally gray) that penetrates, seals and conditions the wood from within, rather than forms a thin paint-like film on the surface. Most of the garbage found in your local paint or home store will do just that. These film-forming stains may look great a couple weeks after application, but will quickly become a costly maintenance nightmare down the road. As these coatings begin to flake, chip and fail, they must be stripped before a new coat of hopefully something better can be applied. There is a reason why professional wood restoration contractors don't use film-forming products. Professional contractors always demand a product that not only provides exceptional protection and beauty, but also allows them to easily maintain the protection and appearance for years to come.